Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Magic Circle - ‘Journey Blind’ (Album Review)

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/11/2015
Label: 20 Buck Spin





Magic Circle throws hook after hook and riff after riff at the listener, giving us no shortage of big moments to latch onto, without falling back on the most tired aspects of Sabbath’s catalogue as the default.  Although Magic Circle isn’t going to wow anyone with innovation, for what it sets out to do, Magic Circle does it better than just about anyone going right now

‘Journey Blind’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Journey Blind
2. The Damned Man
3. A Ballad For The Vultures
4. Lightning Cage
5. Ghosts Of The Southern Front
6. Grand Deceivers
7. Antediluvian


The Review:

There’s no scarcity of doom and classic heavy metal worship as we’re closing in on the end of 2015. There are, of course, folks who can’t get enough, and that’s fine. I’m a lot more temperamental when it comes to this style, particularly when the bands being worshipped are bands like Black Sabbath. Orchid for example, was fun the first time around, but the returns have diminished greatly for me from album to album. The truth is that Sabbath worship has been done to death by hundreds of bands over the years, and unless you’ve got a genuinely good approach, you’re doomed to mediocrity from the start.

Magic Circle, thankfully avoids that trap by remembering that Sabbath worship doesn’t have to mean ‘70-’78 only. ‘Journey Blind’ is a healthy mix of 70s and 80s Sabbath, with nods here and there to other 80s doom bands as well. Why Magic Circle succeeds where other bands fall short is that they embrace a much wider variety of those classic albums of influence had to offer. So many bands stick to the “Lord of This World” or “Hole in the Sky” formulas, but there’s a lot more to Sabbath than just a few ultra-specific tropes.

After opening with the sort of dirge you might expect of any traditional doom band, the album’s lead and title track, “Journey Blind”, picks up the pace into something akin to “Neon Knights”, though Magic Circle’s interpretation is looser, and less palm-muting centric. We’re also treated to some slow gallop ala “Country Girl” in the song's second half, which makes for a perfect tempo break for that point in the song. The song exposes a lot the lack of variety that has plagued so many Sabbath-worshipping bands over the last 20 years, and that’s just in the first song.

For the rest of the album, Magic Circle throws hook after hook and riff after riff at the listener, giving us no shortage of big moments to latch onto, without falling back on the most tired aspects of Sabbath’s catalogue as the default. I suppose it’s a strange thing to compliment a band on finding a more interesting way of paying homage to another band’s work, but I also suppose that metal’s a strange genre that way. In any event, Magic Circle isn’t going to wow anyone with innovation, but that’s by design. For what it sets out to do, Magic Circle does it better than just about anyone going right now.

“Journey Blind” is available digitally here and a CD/LP copy here.


FFO: Black Sabbath, Pagan Altar, Orchid, Crypt Sermon

Band info: official

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